Hey all. Thought it was about
time I made my introduction on here. My g/f originally found HW in the quest to gain more information on Crohns, something she was diagnosed with over a year ago; and in the process turned me onto this community as well. My problems are more anxiety related, but I also have some physical things I'm dealing with as well. I have found this forum to be a great source of information and support; nothing quite like hearing from people that are going through the same or similar situations and how they're dealing with them.
Soooo, my story (somewhat condensed and abridged). It's no mystery to me where my anxiety issues arise from as I come from a very crazy and abusive family (parents). They painted pretty much everything you can imagine in the world as dangerous, scary, injurious, etc... And as such, I learned to see the world as being all of these things (I really need to be reprogrammed and/or reformatted at this point). :) I currently suffer from Anxiety, Panic, Agoraphobia, OCD, PTSD, Depression, (I know... I really know how to have some fun!), among other things. I can clearly remember being much younger, 4 – 7 years old, and being a fun loving, outward, and charming child. I'm sure a good deal of damage had already been done at that point as well, but it didn't really outwardly show itself until I was about 7 or so. In fact, I remember my pediatrician making a comment about how much my demeanor had changed in such a short period of time. Looking back, the Dr should have called child protective services, but that didn't happen.
With my first panic attacks, I remember being outside my house and having this feeling like I couldn't breathe. I was hyperventilating, no doubt, but I was starting to get the feeling that if I didn't consciously take control of my breathing, my breathing would stop and I would die. I didn't know what this was that I was experiencing; only that these episodes scared me greatly and I felt powerless over them. So these were some of my first panic attacks. Unfortunately, the first of a great many that would continue for years and years.
Fast forward into elementary, junior high, and high school (and some college) - the anxiety just went up and up and up on the graph. The anxiety started to really become a serious problem around the 4th grade. I used to be an outgoing kid (now in my 30s) that would be the first to raise his hand in class, read aloud, etc, etc... More and more, I found such things to be heavily anxiety producing; causing me to start to avoid participation in what I had taken joy in in the past, including social situations. I was good at these things, but anxiety was really starting to take control. I started noticing that I felt very uncomfortable in open areas and I just didn't feel safe. I felt like I was going to die or get swept off the earth (how are those for some good feelings?? :) ) There were long stretches of time (months) where I did not even leave my house, paralyzed by the fear of my panic attacks.. they were just that bad! I felt safer at home, but not safe. After all, during these school years my home was with my parents, and that is where all my problems originate. To this day my parents have a very toxic effect on me, even though I haven't lived with them for years. More and more areas of my life were becoming intertwined with heavy anxiety and panic. Depression and OCD became quickly growing extensions from the already horrible A/P. It stands to reason that if you're going through such a horrible time with anxiety, and how it is ruling/ruining your life, you're not gonna be a happy camper.
The one thing I can proudly say, is that throughout all of the abuse and subsequent problems, I always retained my own, unique personality. I'm an artist, and although I grew up in a very provincial family, I have ventured a great deal outside of my comfort zone and have broken many of the boundaries that my family has adhered to. I have enjoyed some great successes in my life (not without great stress, but certainly with reward ), that years ago I thought would be impossible. I'm still struggling with anxiety, especially with some of the very real and scary health things I've had to go through with my g/f, as well as some physical stuff that I've been dealing with myself. I'm sure anyone out there that suffers from anxiety knows all too well how real life, stressful events tend to amplify all of the A/P problems. I am by nature, outgoing, (not to be confused with laid-back :) ); and this has allowed me to connect with and understand the world and people around me in a way my family never will. My parents are very provincial, petty, xenophobic people. The pain I endured also gave me great empathy for other people that were hurting, regardless of the source. The entire experience with A/P, depression, and all the accompanying problems matured me beyond my years. Humor became my self defense mechanism and something that I enjoy as it gives me a chance to make lemonade out of lemons. Humor has always allowed me, to some degree, to disarm myself and my mind as well as others.
My brother wasn't saved from the abuse at home, but seems to have come out of it a bit differently than me. He too suffers from major anxiety, and this has greatly controlled and limited his life, but not to the extent that it has controlled mine. He reminds me a lot of my father, unfortunately. As for me, “one of these things is not like the others”. I'm a lot different than my parents and brother, and I'm happy that's the case.
Anyway, I've read posts in the Crohns forums as per my g/f's health probs, and I've read and learned quite a bit by reading threads in the anxiety forum. It's unfortunate that so many people are also going through such hard times, but there's also some solace in knowing that I'm not alone with many of the issues I'm dealing with. Only people that have experienced these kind of things first hand can understand what it's truly like.
Also, I should mention that only a chosen few really know about my problems. You get to be a pretty good actor when you have panic attacks/agoraphobia, etc... and you don't want anyone to notice. I think I earned an oscar many times over already. :) The reason I haven't been able to be open is that this would probably close doors that I want to remain open; and many people just don't understand how debilitating anxiety can be. People know physical pain and other physical conditions that they can put a name and category to, but not something as ethereal as something that's in your head. Anxiety is something that can be harder to put your finger on and understand; especially if you really don't suffer from it yourself. Anxiety has a stigma attached to it, but not as much as it used to. I'm sure in this high stress world we're going to be seeing more and more people that suffer with anxiety publicly and it may become something that is accepted just as those with physical conditions are recognized and accepted. It's already much more accepted to be on a medication like Prozac and/or be seeing a shrink. It's almost become a chic thing. I hope anxiety gets it's proper place and understanding among all the serious challenges that people face in their life so that it's less of a stigma. I think that would make anxious people everywhere just a little less anxious. :)
I guess that's pretty good for an opening introduction; I'm sure there will be plenty to follow as I'm just getting my feet wet by doing this. I've been meaning to introduce myself for some time now, and haven't gotten involved in many posts because I had not taken care of this important step yet. I'm happy to have found this community and wish the best for all of its members.
I haven't written a signature yet, but below is my drug cocktail (shaken not stirred).
Seroquel 100mg 1 x day, Valium 5mg 2x day, Wellbutrin SR 150mg 1 x day.